Which DE uses less resources?

IF you had to choose in order which DE uses the least system resources, how would YOU put them in order?


Am I wrong? :thinking:


First, it depends what you mean by resources. If you mean, RAM, I am guessing they would rate this way if I limit myself to only these 4 options.

  1. Mate
  2. Plasma
  3. xfce
  4. Cinnamon

xfce uses significantly more memory since switching to gtk3 so it really isn’t a low resource DE at this point.

A few caveats:

  • I haven’t tested Mate since it switched to gtk3 so I don’t technically know how much RAM it uses these days
  • How you configure a DE and what you choose to run has a huge impact on memory use. They all can be slimmed down or fattened up
  • The difference between the top and the bottom really isn’t that great unless you are super-light on memory.

The question is subjective at best.

What do you compare and why?

IMO it is impossible to answer


Sorry, yes I was referring to system memory.

I have 16gb of system memory, soon to be 32gb.

I run a functional environment which at the core uses around 100-150MB.

What you top off with only increases the overall memory consumption.

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I notice that Firefox uses a lot.

Under both EOS and Garuda ram usage ion averager is 3.5 gigs and cpu when idol is about 15%.

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Keep in mind that Linux tries to use your memory. If you have free memory, it will consume it.

I almost never have less than 20G of memory(excluding VMs) used on my main workstation but I have 64G in total.

If I ran the same applications on my laptop which only has 8GB, they would all run fine.


Xfce and Plasma are pretty close in resource usage. Plasma might be a tiny bit lighter. But in any case, they use less RAM than a single tab opened in Firefox. :slight_smile:


Have you used Mate recently? Curious about that.

If you have 16 GiB RAM your ressource consumption won’t be affected much by the selected DE but by the packages you are running (like Firefox).

P.S.: If you are really looking for a low ressource DE you should also consider LXQt.


Hmmm… Never gave LXQt a thought. Thanks!

If you have 16 GiB of RAM, you will notice no difference in performance in any DE you use. Just pick the one you like the most.


I’d say Mate too; find everything runs far better on it, including games (have run Cinnamon previously, and kde).

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Definitely. Honestly, as long as you have at least 4GB of RAM I wouldn’t worry about it.


If you are not using as much RAM as possible then you are wasting a lot of potential.
For examle I did this setup with Firefox on RAM from Arch wiki and I must say it was a huge improvement. More so on an old computer without SSD drive.

Unless you realy need RAM for some large allocation (e.g. FEM analysis on a fine mesh model) then I recommend do not care about it. In the end there is really no difference.

Also if you take some DE and (un-)install your prefered software all these comparison from other people are as good as null. And everything can change next week with a new system update.


Firefox does use a bit of memory for sure. Each tab you open uses more. I’m not a big fan of opening a whole bunch of tabs. I have 32 GB memory and honestly it’s a bit more than really needed. But, I have powerful cpu also and fast hardware and fast internet.


Yea same here, i usually have like 30+ tabs pinned on Firefox. :rofl:

You’d be surprised at what some people do.
:laughing: Have I done it before? Only for testing purposes!


I used to use an add-on to reduce the memory load of the open but inactive tabs in Firefox: